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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Does the Circulation Booster Work at Improving Circulation? 

We have all seen the adverts for the Circulation Booster, but can it really boost the circulation? Surely the claims “as seen on TV” and the reliance on testimonials in the marketing should be enough to set off the ‘snake oil’ alarm bells. There is certainly no good scientific data to support its use at improving circulation to the lower limb and the Therapeutic Products Advertising authority in Australia forced the company to modify the claims that they made. A similar ruling was given by the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK.

So how is the Circulation Booster supposed to work?

When we are walking the rhythmic contraction of the muscles in the lower limb act as a muscle pump to help pump the blood back up to the heart. This is an important way to stimulate the venous return part of the circulation. The idea behind the Circulation Booster is to provide a small electrical stimulus to the bottom of the foot while sitting to gently stimulate the muscles to contract and thereby help the venous return to the heart. This has nothing to do with the arterial supply or the about improving (or “boosting”) the amount of circulation down to the foot and lower limb!

So, at best, the Circulation Booster may help blood go back up the veins, but the blood supply down to the feet and legs come via the arteries and it won’t affect that! This maybe help prevent DVT and other thromboembolic events… but so will walking and this will be a whole lot better for people than sitting with their feet on the device. There has been some research that has shown some improvement in the venous parameters, but that is NOT the arterial circulation (funny how the company promotes these scientific studies, but do not point out they are on the venous side of things and not the arterial side!)

Going for a walk around the block is going to get that venous muscle pump working harder and do a lot more good for the venous circulation that sitting with the foot on the Circulation Booster. Going for a walk (ie gentle exercise) is going to help fitness, general well-being, prevent osteoporosis and actually improve the arterial circulation. So what you going to do? Sit down for 30 minutes on the Circulation Booster or go for a 30 minute walk. Which one is going to help your circulation more? Which one is going to hurt the wallet more?

Until I see some credible data, think placebo effect when people say they help.

See the Podiatry Arena discussion on the Circulation Booster.

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